It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the variety of diets out there. It seems like every day there’s a new article telling you what you should or shouldn’t eat, or what the best way to lose weight is! One option that many people have turned to recently is the ketogenic diet. You may have heard the term before, or you may even know someone “going keto.” But, perhaps you remain a little bit unsure about what that actually means.
Here are the basics to help you decide if the ketogenic diet is right for you and how a keto calculator can help you get started.
What is a “Keto” Diet?
The ketogenic diet, or “keto” diet for short, gets its name from molecules called “ketones”which your liver makes from fat. The foundation of the diet is to reach a metabolic state of ketosis, in which your body starts burning more fat rather than the glucose from carbs for energy. In order to do this, you must eat a high-fat, low-carb diet.
While there are other low-carb diets like the Atkins diet and the Paleo diet, the keto diet differs in that it focuses on fat rather than protein.
What You Can and Can’t Eat on a Keto Diet
Following the high-fat, low-carb rule, here are some of the foods you can eat on a ketogenic diet:
- Meat (preferably organic and grass-fed)
- Seafood (salmon, tuna, scallops, crab, etc.)
- Fats and oils (butter, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.)
- Full-fat dairy (cheese, cream cheese, sour cream, etc.)
- Low-carb, above-ground vegetables (asparagus, mushroom, broccoli, etc.)
- Nuts and seeds (in moderation)
Now, here are some of the foods you should stay away from if you’re eating keto:
- Grains (bread, rice, pasta, oats, etc.)
- Sweets (candy, cake, ice cream, honey, cookies, etc.)
- Root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, beets, etc.)
Why a Keto Diet Compared to a Regular Diet
So, why choose the keto diet over other diets out there? A huge part of the decision comes down to your individual health status and preference regarding whether you’re able to stick to the recommended regimen. That being said, one study found that the ketogenic diet outperformed a standard American diet with no exercise, just as well as a standard American diet with exercise.
Reasons to Try the Keto Diet
The biggest reason to go keto is if you are unhappy with your weight. This is because the ketogenic diet is mostly geared towards weight loss/weight gain/weight maintenance, rather than any other nutritional benefits, due to its focus on burning fat. Keep in mind that the ketogenic diet is mainly used as a short-term weight loss solution, rather than a long-term lifestyle.
Another common reason people try the keto diet may be because they suffer from epilepsy. Interestingly enough, the ketogenic diet has actually been used to control seizures, particularly with children who don’t respond to traditional drug treatment.
Other Health Benefits of the Keto Diet
Aside from the potential to lose weight, there are a number of other possible benefits of the keto diet. Research has been done on how the keto diet may be used to treat cardiovascular disease, neurological disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and acne, just to name a few. If you suffer from any of these medial conditions and you want to see if the keto diet can help, there are a few steps you should take to make sure the diet is safe.
Starting Your Keto Diet
The first step in starting your keto diet is to consult your doctor to see if the diet is a good idea for you. If your doctor gives you the go ahead, you need to figure out how many carbohydrates, fats, and proteins you should eat per day. This trio is referred to as your “macronutrients,” or macros, which is a word you’ll hear frequently if you decide to go keto.
To determine how much of each macro you should eat, you can use a keto calculator that factors in your age, gender, height, and weight. The calculator will tell you how many ounces of carbs, proteins, and fats to aim for per day, as well as a total number of calories you should aim to consume per day. With these macro numbers in mind, you can meal plan properly.
The high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet is a popular option for those pursuing weight loss or looking to treat a chronic medical condition. If you want to do a ketogenic diet, you can use a keto calculator to figure out how many of each type of macronutrient to eat a day. Don’t forget to first consult your doctor to see if the keto diet is healthy for you!
Cindy is a freelance writer and editor with previous experience in marketing as well as book publishing. Along with her content writing for a diverse portfolio of clients, Cindy’s work has been featured in Thrillist, The Points Guy, Forbes, and more.